Alexandria Returns to SUBASE Following Circumnavigation of Globe Story Number: NNS041217-09 Release Date: 12/17/2004 1:52:00 PM
By Journalist 1st Class (SW/AW) Mark A. Savage, Commander, Navy Region Northeast Public Affairs
GROTON, Conn. (NNS) -- The Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Alexandria (SSN 757) returned to Naval Submarine Base (SUBASE) New London Dec. 10 following a deployment that circumnavigated the globe.
Alexandria departed SUBASE June 11 and transited under the Arctic ice to the Pacific Ocean. While this is the first transit of this type for an improved Los Angeles-class submarine, USS Nautilus (SSN 571) was the first submarine to make such a transit, going from the Pacific to Atlantic Ocean in 1958. On the golden anniversary of that ship's commissioning, that feat held the fascination of Alexandria's captain during his own transit.
"I kind of kept tabs of their track," said Cmdr. Thomas Kearney, Alexandria's commanding officer. "I don't know the exact speed that they went, but I think we beat their speed record and we'll have one of the fastest under-ice transits ever."
After entering the Pacific Ocean, the crew enjoyed port visits in Japan, Singapore and Guam, intermixed with their training and operations. It was in Guam where some crew members had the opportunity to reunite with their spouses. The spouses who flew out to meet their husbands followed virtually the same path as the submarine.
"That was exciting that the submarine went under the North Pole and we went over it," said Lorene Hendricks, wife of Chief Machinist's Mate (SS) Steven Hendricks.
"It was nice to have that break in the deployment so we could see each other," said Emily Thompson, wife of Chief Machinist's Mate (SS) Gary Thompson. "The weather and island were beautiful. We went snorkeling out in the coral reefs. I've never done that before."
After the reunions and port visit in the Pacific were complete, Alexandria continued on with her circumnavigation of the globe. They joined the Yokosuka, Japan-based USS Cowpens (CG 63) and USS Gary (FFG 51) in a port visit in Goa, India, before participating in Exercise Malabar with the Indian navy.
Exercise Malabar is a bilateral exercise designed to increase interoperability between the two navies while enhancing the cooperative security relationship between India and the United States. The at-sea training included maritime interdiction, surface events, sub-surface and air events, as well as personnel exchanges.
"Exercise Malabar was great," Kearney said. "We sailed around with three Indian ships and one Indian submarine and did a bunch of different exercises with them. They were a very professional navy and very interested in how we do business."
Alexandria's crew also hosted an Indian commander for some of the exercises during Exercise Malabar.
"At the end, I asked him what it was like to be on a submarine," Kearney said. "He said the only words he could come up with were, 'It's as if I have gone to the moon.'"
Alexandria also made history by becoming the first U.S. nuclear-powered submarine to make a port call in Goa, India.
"I got a lot of 'Hunt for Red October' comments while we were there," Kearney said. "That was their (Indians') perspective of submarines. We gave them a tour of the submarine while we were in India, and they were just blown away."
After completing Exercise Malabar and their port visit in India, Alexandria transited through the Red Sea, Suez Canal and Mediterranean Sea, with stops in Crete and Rota, Spain, then home to SUBASE.
"The trip was long, but it was cool because I got to see a lot of different places," said Electronics Technician 2nd Class (SS) Scott Carrington. "But this is definitely the best port to come into, and it's good to be home."
After the deployment was over, Alexandria had steamed 37,175 miles in 180 days.
"It highlights the technological marvels that these submarines are," Kearney said. "The fact that I can take a submarine from Groton, Conn., and be in Japan in less than 30 days and ready to work says a lot. In the six months we were gone, we had 24 dedicated maintenance days and that's it. So the ship is running fabulous and we're ready to go again...shipwise. Peoplewise, we're ready to stay home for a while."